March 25, 2021

SWAT Snipers, White Collar Crimes, and Consent for Autopsies

Apple Podcasts podcast player badge
Spotify podcast player badge
Google Podcasts podcast player badge
Overcast podcast player badge
Castro podcast player badge
PocketCasts podcast player badge
RSS Feed podcast player badge

Arliss Cutter series order:





*The links above are Amazon Associates affiliate links.  

This episode would not be possible without the support of the following Patreon Patrons:




- This week on the Writer's Detective Bureau, SWAT snipers, white-collar crimes, and consent for autopsies. (soft suspenseful music) I'm Adam Richardson, and this is the Writer's Detective Bureau. (soft suspenseful music) Welcome to episode 107 of the Writer's Detective Bureau, the podcast dedicated to helping authors and screenwriters write professional quality, crime related fiction. And this week I'm answering your questions about SWAT snipers on rooftops ♪ And whiskers on


kittens ♪ (chuckles) No, wait. SWAT snipers on rooftops, how the FBI and the SEC handle white-collar investigations, and when autopsies are and are not performed. But don't worry, it's nothing that will make you squeamish. All right, let's get into this week's first question. (soft suspenseful music) First up is Ryan Elder who brings us this question, he says, "Thank you very much again for answering my last question. It


was very helpful. And since you said you've been busy lately, I hope things are still going well for you, even in difficult times." Thanks Ryan. They are. We just had our floors redone (chuckles) which caused a wrench in things for recording. But other than that, everything's going well. So Ryan goes on to say, "I had another question about a part of a screenplay I'm writing that I thought


I would ask. I'm not sure if this is too sensitive a question, but if it is, please just let me know. In movies, whenever the police are forced to shoot a gunman from far away by deploying sharpshooters, the sharpshooters have often commandeered another building which they're using for positioning and will shoot through the windows or from the rooftop of the building. I was wondering, how accurate this is


to real life? If it can be done in rare emergency situations, I was wondering how do the police proceed in using the building? Do they just enter and quickly tell people who work there what they need to do there and request that they cooperate? Or how would they handle this exactly if it can happen in real life? Thank you very much again for your advice. I really appreciate


it." Thanks for the question, Ryan. If the building is one the snipers want to use for overwatch, it means that the building is within line of sight of wherever the police think the bad guys are holed up. So it would be a pretty a smart and reasonable thing to evacuate that building for the safety of everyone inside. While evacuating the building, the police would likely ask for permission


from whomever had legal standing over the building, or the roof, or whatever, to use the rooftop, or an office, or whatever, for the SWAT team or the snipers. Realistically, when you have an active incident with a gunman, which is all too realistic and common a scenario these days, there is no question that getting to the roof of whatever building you need would be reasonable, and covered by the


exigent circumstances doctrine. In case you haven't heard previous episodes where I've talked about exigent circumstances, those are emergencies where the Fourth Amendment allows for the police to enter a building without a warrant. And in this case, we have the immediate need to deal with an emergency that is an imminent threat to life. And that, dealing with that and preserving life, far outweighs the delay of going to get


a warrant from a judge before we do this, before we go into the building or use the rooftop. In this instance, the police are neither searching nor seizing anything from the building, which is what the Fourth Amendment talks about. So realistically, these exigent circumstances would arguably eliminate any legal claim that the police were trespassing by the building's owner, but that's about it. So I hope that helps answer


your question, Ryan. (soft suspenseful music) And real quick, this episode would not be possible without my patrons on Patreon, especially the $2 a month Coffee Club patrons, the $10 a month Silver Cufflink patrons, and the super generous $20 a month Gold Shield patrons, namely Debra Dunbar, from, CC Jameson from, Larry Keeton, Vicki Tharp of Chrysann, Larry Darter, Natalie Barelli, Craig Kingsman of, Lynn Vitale,


Marco Carocari of, Terri Swann, Rob Kearns of Knightsfall Press, Chris A. Moody of, and Mariah Stone of You can find links to all of the patrons supporting this episode in the show notes at My patrons are the best. And I just wanna say thank you for supporting this podcast and the community month after month. Being a patron means getting access to discounted merchandise as


well as patron-only livestreams where we just hang out and do some random Q&A. Or sometimes we just chat and drink coffee, but never, ever beer or whiskey. That would never, ever happen on a happy hour live stream, nope. So if you're interested in supporting the Bureau for as little as $2 per month, or to learn more about using Patreon to grow your author business, which I highly recommend


you investigate, check out, P-A-T-R-E-O-N. (soft suspenseful music) On to this week's second question, Dr. Sarah Hinlicky Wilson is back and she writes, "Hi, Adam. I'm continuing to love the show. Could you help me set up this scenario right? A financier implicated in the stock market crash of 1987 has retreated to a rural town with his family. I want his civil crimes to catch up with him in


the spring of 1989, preferably with him being detained and separated from his family. I'm imagining investigators sifting through a lot of data before they finally discover his part in it. How could I make this work? Does a person ever get arrested for crimes of this nature? Would it be his initial arrest? And would he be released pending trial? If I want the separation from family to last a


longer time, would I have to make it his sentence after the trial? Thanks for any insight you can offer." Thanks so much for the question. For starters, you're right in that white-collar crime investigations such as securities fraud or insider trading take a long time to pull together because so much of it hinges on business records analysis which means, A, getting your hands on those records, B, analyzing what


those records actually mean, and C, figuring out how those records and their analysis prove that a particular person committed a specific crime. Often these cases hinge upon a whistleblower or an informant. First though, we should talk about the players in the investigation. And this goes directly to something you said in your original question, which is actually an oxymoron. You said, quote, "I want his civil crimes to catch


up with him in the spring of 1989." In the American legal system, cases are either criminal or civil. If the case can lead to incarceration as punishment, that case is criminal. Everything else is civil. Suing someone for the deposit they kept, going to small-claims court for the money your ex-husband's brother borrowed and never paid back, divorce court to argue about alimony, probate court to deal with inheritance, are


all various forms of civil court cases. The next thing to understand is that any kind of stock market related investigations will be handled at the federal level. So for the criminal side of things, that means the FBI doing the investigating and the US Attorney's Office doing the prosecuting. But then there is a civil side to these cases as well. And the SEC, or more specifically, the United States


Securities and Exchange Commission, is a regulatory body that enforces the rules related to the stock market. and the SECs Enforcement Division conducts investigations into violations of those rules. Those violations, however, will result in civil or administrative penalties. In other words, money, not jail time. Now that said, the FBI and SEC Enforcement Division will work together on cases. In a case like this, once they've gathered all their evidence,


the US Attorney would present the evidence to a federal grand jury, which would likely result in the grand jury indicting your bad guy. Now this is done in secret, right? So once the grand jury returns an indictment, a federal magistrate or judge would issue an arrest warrant based upon the grand jury findings of probable cause. So I hope this makes sense so far. So with that arrest warrant,


the FBI would go arrest your bad guy. From there, the bad guy would appear before the federal judge within a day or two, and they'd set conditions of release, meaning bail or being released on OR, own recognizance, or the defendant could be remanded to custody pending trial. For a white-collar crime case though, I'd fully expect the defendant to be released and to stay out of custody until sentencing.


So assuming he's convicted. So if the crimes were purely financial, and no violence was alleged, he'd likely be sentenced to an FCI, a federal correctional institution also known as Club Fed. (chuckles) It's a play off of the Club Med name for the resorts because Club Fed, or the FCIs, are not nearly as hardcore as some of the lockdown federal penitentiaries. I would suggest looking at the cases of


Ivan Boesky. I'm not sure if I'm pronouncing his last name correctly but B like boy, O-E-S-K-Y. He was the inspiration for Michael Douglas's character, Gordon Gekko, in the movie "Wall Street." And then also Michael Milken, M-I-L-K-E-N for inspiration on how the late 1980s white-collar cases were prosecuted and punished. I will also include links to the relevant FBI and SEC webpages in the show notes at (soft suspenseful


music) And for our third question, Claire Wake writes in, "Really enjoying the podcast. I just started listening a little while ago. Sorry if you've already answered this one. I haven't listened to all of the episodes, though I skimmed the titles and couldn't see anything about it. I read somewhere that you need permission from the next of kin to perform an autopsy. I was wondering how long it usually


takes to get this permission and where in the timeline of the case autopsies usually happen? Is the goal to try and perform the autopsy as soon as possible to gather as much evidence from the body as possible, where that's necessary? Thanks for all your work on the podcast. It's really helping me with my writing." Thank you so much for the question, Claire. Now I'm gonna start with the


last part. Yes you are correct in that you want that autopsy to happen as soon as possible to gather as much evidence from the body. And that will usually be done in the, you know, following days after the body is discovered. Now as to the legality, and the need for permission from next of kin, I can't speak for the laws everywhere, obviously, but here in California, any victim


of a sudden, unexpected, or unexplained death, or any death known or suspected of resulting from an accident, suicide, or apparent criminal means, is considered a coroner's case and is subject to a coroner's inquest which could include an autopsy, regardless of whether the family wanted it or not. In other words, if the decedent saw his doctor in the last 20 days for a known issue, and the doctor can


unequivocally attest to the death being a known cause, which would be like a doctor saying, "This was an expected death from cancer, and I've been treating this patient for cancer," then the attending doctor can sign the death certificate. Otherwise, it's the coroner, or medical examiner, or whichever agency it is for that jurisdiction, that handles that death investigation or that inquest. Most agencies will assess whether an autopsy is


actually necessary as part of the inquest, and will try to respect the wishes of the family if it's practical, meaning if the cause of death is readily apparent without the autopsy. But they also have a job to do. And a family member objecting to an autopsy could also be an attempt to conceal evidence. So the bottom line is no they do not need next of kin to approve


an autopsy. One interesting thing to note though for you writers is the opposite scenario. Let's say the doctor saw the decedent, his patient, in the last 20 days and signs the death certificate, making it a non-coroner's death, or a nonmedical examiner's death. What if the doctor actually killed the patient? The law says a surviving spouse can make a written request to the coroner to conduct an inquest to


confirm the doctor's findings. Now, I only mention it because I know you writers love to exploit those little legal nuances and giving you what you love, especially in death, is what I'm here for. So thank you, Claire, Sarah, and Ryan for the questions this week. And thank you for listening. This is your Bureau. So get your questions featured on the next episode by going to Thanks again


for listening. Have a great week and write well. (soft suspenseful music)